Never forget that Nintendo is a corporation and wants your money first and foremost.

Over the Black Friday weekend the Nintendo eshop had a number of games on sale. Additionally, there were many deals online for discounted gift cards, starting new accounts with online stores, etc. Having already spent a couple months growing my knowledge of how to save money on Nintendo Switch games - Nintendo being notorious for not putting games on sale often enough or discounted enough - I ended up making the following purchase of 7 games:

Inside, The Messenger, Minit, Celeste, Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon, Okami HD, and West of Loathing. The total non-sale price of those games is $110.94. I paid about $60. I also picked up Mario + Rabbids: Kingdom Battle for an additional $20 (non-sale price is $60), which seems to be its consistent lowest sale price now (my guess is it gets that low because it’s actually an Ubisoft game, not a Nintendo game). In one day I got 8 phenomenal games for $80 and saved about $91.

In an effort to save money and make up for Nintendo’s anti-consumer, anti-sale policies I’ve come up with the following tips that have helped me and I hope help you! 2019 is looking amazing for games on the Switch and with Nintendo’s habit of only announcing games 6 months in advance, we definitely have more games coming.

The Basics

These are some basic guidelines you can follow to save money over time. You’ve probably heard at least a couple of these points before.

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1) Always buy a physical copy of major releases. They’re the same price as digital and you can sell them used. Nintendo wants you to buy digital so you can’t resell used games and can’t share games with your friends. Used games developed by Nintendo sell for almost the same price as new because Nintendo never significantly lowers the price of their mainline games. I sold two games I really disliked (Octopath Traveler and Valkyria Chronicles 4) and only lost about $10 in the process (VC4 has since significantly decreased in sale price - if you don’t like something, sell it fast!). Smaller games will sometimes release physical copies, but they’re often priced higher than digital because they’re limited run and you never know if/when they will actually release so avoid them.

2) Always wait to buy. This has been said a billion times - unless you’re dying to get a game you can wait and the price will probably go down. Even now we’re seeing more regular sales of major Nintendo games marked down from $60 to ~$45. The Nintendo eshop frequently has sales on fantastic indie games. This point is even more true if the holiday season is coming (November and December).

3) Never buy older games at full price. If you walk into a Target and you just got a Switch and you see Zelda: Breath of the Wild on the shelves for $60 do not buy it. Older games (6-12 months or older) are frequently on sale. You should not be buying older games at full price. If your options are to buy Zelda: BOTW or Zelda: BOTW and Golf Story - pick the latter.

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4) Think carefully before buying a Switch. Wait for the holidays to see what Switch bundles are available. I pressured a friend of mine for months to buy a Switch and when Black Friday rolled around he went to Gamestop and bought the $300 Mario Kart Switch bundle and got a $50 Gamestop gift card with it.

5) Buy used games. This one is obvious. Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Amazon, etc. use them.

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Advanced Techniques

Here’s where more of my direct knowledge comes in. I’ve picked up these various tips since buying my Switch in 2018 and they have served me well.

1) Reddit is a horrible wasteland of ignorance but it may be the best place to track sales. The only Reddit forum I read is r/NintendoSwitchDeals - I have the page bookmarked and check semi-regularly. A lot of it will be average sales (still not bad!) but there will often be sweet deals in there, especially daily sales on giftcards or websites that have a sale that is applicable to giftcards.

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2) Know who has the sales. This is somewhat obvious but all the major corporations out there run a sales racket to suck you in to their email blasts and advertising numbers. Ebay, Amazon, Paypal, Bestbuy, Walmart, Google, etc. all have regular sales on games and/or regular sitewide discount sales that can apply to eshop giftcards.

3) Find a discounted giftcard website. I use www.raise.com. Gift cards are a weird thing - they’re essentially a scam to make sure you spend money at a large corporation that can afford to make gift cards instead of anywhere else. I can’t ask for money for the holidays to spend on a local independent book store, but I CAN ask for an Amazon gift card. Gift cards are dumb but you might as well take advantage since they’re around.

  • I use www.raise.com which constantly has discounted gift cards. The Nintendo eshop gift cards range from 7-10% discounted at all times. This means you should NEVER be putting money onto your Nintendo eshop account. You’re just losing money that way.
  • Check for deals WITHIN the gift card site. Raise.com has a way to earn money on their site by purchasing through their app, you get money in your account if you’re referred to the site, etc. They also frequently have additional sales on top of their gift card discounts or offer increased discounts if you spend a certain amount of money.
  • My go-to method on Raise is to wait until I get an email telling me I’ll get $10 off my next order of $100 or more (these emails come regularly) and then buy gift cards equaling just over $100 to get the additional $10 off. The total discount will come to somewhere around 18% off which is pretty damn good.
  • If you know of another or better gift card site please let me know! I’ve gotten used to this one but there are more out there.

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4) Now stack everything together. If you’re getting all your eshop money ~18% off and regularly buying digital indie games for 25% off your total discount is about 43%. You can also purchase gift cards to stores that offer physical copies of games (ie: Gamestop, Target, Amazon, etc.) but beware! It’s much harder to spend all the gift card money on physical items than digital. The Nintendo eshop just has so many cheap games using up your balance will be the least of your problems.

5) Don’t obsess over sales. Sales are VERY frequent in the modern world. Things are regularly overpriced just so corporations can slap a sale on it and manipulate you into feeling like you’ve GOT to get it now. Take your time, think about what you want, read game reviews (especially the ones on Kotaku!) and purchase when you’re ready. It’s exceedingly rare a sale is so good that it’ll never happen again. The only time it really makes sense to keep a more fervent eye on sales is Black Friday weekend.

Me resting after some money well saved

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Okay! That’s all I’ve got. Some of this will be obvious, some may seem daunting but once you try it you’ll realize how easy it is. Unfortunately we are living in the darkest timeline - wages have been going down for years while profits for the richest of the rich go up. Take advantage where you can and have no shame in it! The shame is in how corporations try to squeeze every last dime out of us for something we love. Good luck and save some money!

If you have any additional tips please write them below in the comments.